Over the past few weeks, I have received a number of concerned notes relating to the financial disaster slowly unfolding in the US and elsewhere. My focus tends to be on engineering (naturally enough) but I believe a comment is worthwhile. Although I am definitely not an expert in complex financial issues - In essence, I believe we have to stay the course in what we do on a day-to-day basis. Due to the impact of considerably less credit available, projects and firms will undoubtedly be impacted and this will ripple through to you, the engineering professional. But overall we generally build, fix and maintain things which have direct benefits to the world (without necessarily massive financial returns) so aren't as exposed as the fickle financial jockeys in the finance industry.
*Stay calm and considered before taking any ill considered action. Most of us will have no direct immediate impact with most changes being long-term and gradual
*Stick to defensive strategies. Minimise personal loans and expansion of your business.
*Repair things; rather than replace and keep borrowing to a minimum. Pay off as much as possible. Cash is king for the foreseeable future
*Protect your income. Refocus on your best products and services. Clearly demonstrate that you are the best engineering professional in the business
*Sharpen your skills by staying on top of your game. Not necessary traditional training courses but simply by knowledge acquisition in learning from experts/ or reading up in critical areas
* Refocus on areas of engineering where there is still strong growth - oil/gas/energy savings/renewables/resources/maintenance/food/agribusiness
* Focus on projects with direct savings on money due to better technology
*Avoid longer term projects with significant risk- no matter how much the payback is likely to be; these are likely to be culled
* Look for opportunities in engineering. Wherever a correction like this drifts through the world, there are opportunities as change is occurring. Perhaps a growth in engineering repair of equipment rather than new products/energy efficiency equipment etc.
Eventually, this financial shake-up will pass on - the trick now, I believe, is to stay calm and considered about what to do. Keep an eye out for the opportunities. Many will remember the last great crash in 1987, where everyone generally bounced back (after a number of years) and most of us recovered their monies invested (altho' admittedly not in the blue sky speculative stuff).
In today's rather depressed business environment, we have to stay positive. As Herm Albright said: "A positive attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort."
Yours in engineering learning